Rachael Leggett
Business Solutions Manager UK & Ireland

"Cathy Ferguson was invited to partner with us to meet a request from one of our Senior Directors, Tony Church, who wanted to refresh the culture and revitalise performance in his part of the organisation.

The intention at Sun Microsystems was to create a unique culture amongst the 200+ strong Services team that reflected the deeply held values and beliefs of Tony Church, Senior Director, about how people should be treated in business.

Tony was passionate about the importance of treating others as we would like to be treated. His belief was that we should be honest with and respectful of each other, and to engage with each other on a human level regardless of seniority or formal position.

His end goal in this development work was to create an environment that people would describe as “the best place I’ve ever worked”. He had inherited an organisation where, because of previous management styles, the culture had been quite different. People were not comfortable with speaking openly and were reluctant about sticking their heads above the parapet. Tony believed this was bad for business; and it felt wrong to him as leader.

Culture change is never easy and the timing for this one was a challenge. There were high levels of uncertainty in the air at this time: a major RIFF was imminent and rumours of the Oracle acquisition abounded. Meanwhile the team had ongoing tough goals to deliver with a relentless chase on increasing margins.

We worked with Tony and his leadership team to articulate a set of shared values and behaviours that would form the basis for how people worked with each other. The creed that evolved was "if you think it and feel it you say it".

We used techniques such as “circle of trust” to open up conversations and share feedback within the leadership team itself, and to build the confidence and trust to take the approach into the organisation.

We also used carefully selected psychometric tools such as MBTI and FIRO-B with members of the leadership team and management teams at lower levels to support leadership ability to connect with and support each other despite significant personality differences.

We used an approach called “connected conversations” alongside staff surveys to get realtime input and feedback from staff on what was working, what was broken and what was needed. The culture shift towards “the best place you ever worked” was tangible and measurable in both quantitative and qualitative terms."